Doing what you love is the key to career happiness, and when I mean doing what you love, I mean the WHOLE package, not just the industry, not just who you work for, the place you work at etc. You can love who you work for, but not the exact tasks you do for the company. You can love the tasks you do, but not the environment you work in. But there are some tell tale signs that you’re working a job vs. doing what you love, here are some of them from my perspective…
A job pays you to be somewhere for 8 hours and feels like you’re at the dentist.
Doing what you love pays you to do what you’d normally be doing anyways for 8 hours.
If you get off of your 9-5, and you feel relieved or excited for the pure sake of getting off of work, and I mean on a routine basis, not just every once in a while when something horrible blows up, then you’re working a job. If you’re doing what you love to do, sure there are those days where fire drills happen and you save the lives of millions with your super human powers of greatness, but chances are you’re happy about the things you accomplish every day at that thing we call work. If you feel your employer should pay you for “time served” chances are you’re working a job, and not doing what you love. If you get your paycheck every week and you remember, “oh yea! I get paid for this too!” you’re probably doing what you love.
A job puts you in awkward situations for which you feel unprepared for and doing things you dread to do.
Doing what you love lets you explore avenues that you have always wanted to travel and gives you life lessons you can use later.
There are times a work where we can’t know all the answers, where we have to “work” to really get some where, sometimes we even have to do those tasks which we find mundane or boring. However, if you’re working at a job these moments in time are going to be significantly harder on you. If you don’t consider that rough patch just a challenge or a bump in the road to the next big span of fun, chances are, you’re at a job instead of doing what you love. When you’re doing what you love, you’re interest in taking on a challenge and learning something new about what you love to do is significantly increased. You step up to the plate instead of sinking back into the crowd. Sure, working means there’s always some part of it that would be described as “work”, but when you’re doing what you love, those periods in time are fun and interesting instead of dreadful and scary.
A job feels like a foreign environment.
Doing what you love feels natural and comfortable.
If you get off work, walk out the door, and feel like you can be “you” again, you’re working at a job instead of doing what you love. When you do what you love, you’re simply changing locations for 8 to 10 hours, not changing mental states or forcing yourself to be someone or something you’re not. Sure, sometimes growing pains are hard, it’s natural to feel a strain every now and then when you’re trying something new or traveling down an unworn path. But, when you feel like you completely metamorphize when you leave the office or a meeting, you’re not being your true self and after a while that can really wear you out just keeping up the facade instead of using that extra bit of energy to really do what you love. I know lots of people who LIKE to wear a suit because of how it makes them feel, when the right person is doing what they love to do and wearing that costume, it DOES something for them and they ENJOY it.
Remember, just because you don’t love something about your current job, doesn’t mean you can’t change it just a smidgen and turn it into something you love to do! Maybe it’s small, like the changing your schedule up two hours to get rid of the two hour commute, maybe it big like starting you own company, or maybe it’s you for not making the leap already into that situation you KNOW you’ll enjoy. What ever it is, remember you’re in control of what you do and how much you enjoy doing it as a career, you’re never stuck.
So how do you know you’re doing what you love?